Beyond Self-Defense

Northwest School of Martial Arts

Welcome to Northwest School of Martial Arts, a Stanwood, WA family martial arts school. Northwest School of Martial Arts has been serving the local community since 1988.

“Beyond Self-Defense. Mind-Body Discipline for a Better You!” Located downtown at the Stanwood Mason Hall, we teach Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Arnis to people of all ages. From youth who want to fly high and kick, to teens who need a confidence boost, women who need vital self-defense skills, and adults who want fitness, discipline, and a mental challenge: whoever you are, we can be a part of your journey towards a better, healthier, more confident you!

Browse the tabs to learn more about our programsblack belts, and the arts we teach. Or, send us an email to find out more. Scroll down to check out Northwest School of Martial Arts blog!

nwsma entrance

Why Being a Multi-Stylist is Awesome: Shito-ryu Karate History

Karate vs. TKD: Each of these pairs contain one Karate and one TKD student. They are doing sticking or splashing hands--originally a kung fu drill! Credit: Bec Thomas Photography (

Multi-stylists: Each of these pairs contain one Karate and one TKD student. They are doing sticky hands, originally a Kung Fu drill! Credit: Bec Thomas Photography (

There’s a lot of debate in the martial arts world about which style of martial arts is best. With the surging popularity of UFC and MMA, it’s not surprising that we have these debates.

There are some who demand that you stick to one style, one art, one school. There are also those of us who cross train and learn to find value in different styles.

Reading this article recently about the history of Shito-ryu Karate (NWSMA’s style) taught me something really cool.

Continue reading

Tournament Forms: It’s All in the Details

Tournament forms are all about the details. Check out this video of Rika Usami (a world tournament forms champion). She’s doing Kosokun Dai. She does a few of the moves slightly differently than in our Seito Shito-ryu Karate version, but that’s not important for now.

What is important is to watch her presence in the ring and sense of timing. This is a form that is performed at a very high level, with 100% attention to detail. Nothing is out of place and there is no wasted motion. She is totally focused on her imaginary opponents, and you can tell that she’s winning the imaginary fight. Continue reading

Arnis Seminar

Thanks to Sabumnim for teaching the Arnis seminar!

We spent a lot of time on empty hand drills in both the beginner and advanced seminars, so the photos mostly show our students practicing joint locks and control holds. Arnis is a self-defense oriented art, and anything you do with a stick also holds empty hand application, hence the focus on empty hand defense.

A few important points from the seminar:

-“It’s all the same.” If it works, it works. Wise words from the Professor (Master Remy Presas).

-There are good and bad martial artists, not good and bad martial arts. Different styles just have different things they focus on or prefer. Continue reading

Weekly Update: 1/14-1/19

All classes are on a normal schedule this week, including Saturday. The Arnis Seminar will take place this Saturday. You can sign up anytime. There will still be regular class from 10-11am Saturday! We hope to see you there for class.

Uniform Reminder: Please wear your belt, uniform pants and jacket. You may wear a plain, school logo, or other martial arts t-shirt. T-shirts must be tucked in. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure all of these items are clean and packed. We know the dojo is sometimes chilly in the winter, so students are welcome to wear appropriate footwear (sneakers) and a lightweight jacket until the building warms up.

Weekly Challenge: Practice side kicks every day this week, focusing on good foot position. Keep those toes down and pulled back!

Sensei has declared two New Year’s goals for all NWSMA students: improving chamber hand and pull back hands, and consistently keeping knees over toes in front stances. Keep this in mind when you practice at home.

Finally, a shout out to our Karate blue and purple belts for their great effort in class this week! You guys are looking better and better every day, keep up the hard work!

Weekly Update: 1/7-1/12

Class on Wed the 9th is cancelled for a Mason event, but all other classes are on a normal schedule this week.

Weekly Challenge: Think about the phrase, “Everything you do is a choice.” Share your thoughts here or in class.

Sensei has declared two New Year’s goals for all NWSMA students: improving chamber hand and pull back hands, and consistently keeping knees over toes in front stances. Keep this in mind when you practice at home.

Two more weeks until the Arnis Seminar on January 19th. Please make sure to sign up with Sensei. There will still be regular class from 10-11am that day.

The Read-a-thon ends January 31st. Keep reading! Bring in your mid-year report cards for a grade check, and you might get a patch for your uniform.

Weekly Update 12/31-1/5

Happy New Year!

Mon the 31st is on special schedule: there is only 1 class, starting at 4pm and ending sometime after 5pm. The rest of the week, Wed, Thurs, Fri, and Sat, will all be on a normal schedule.

Sunday the 30th is Breakfast at the Mason Hall. Bring your appetite!

Weekly Challenge: Look back at your 2012 goals to see what you’ve accomplished this year. Write down your 2013 goals and put them in a safe and visible location.

The Arnis Seminar is coming up on January 19th, so please be paying attention to your Arnis requirements. You can go over them in your head or get your parents’ permission before you use sticks at home.

Reminder to all students: YOU are responsible for practicing outside of class. If you don’t have a lot of space in your house, you can visualize in your head. We can help you with anything on your requirements sheet, so don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need answers.

Weekly Update 12/24-12/29

Happy Holidays to all of our students, their families, and friends who view this site!

We at NWSMA expect our students to put family first, especially during the holidays. However, we will still be open for class Mon, Thurs, Fri, and Sat this week, just for those of you who can’t get enough! Remember that Wed is cancelled this week.

Weekly Challenge: Please begin thinking about your 2013 goals. Also, please read over your Arnis requirements sheet and get practicing, because…

Arnis Seminar with our special guest instructor will take place Saturday, January 19th. The cost is not covered by regular tuition, and the price for the seminar is $20/person. Please sign up with Sensei in advance.

There will be two 2-hour seminars. The first will be 11:00am-1:00pm for students who hold the rank of white, yellow, or green belt in Arnis. The second will be from 1:30pm-3:30pm for students who hold the rank of blue belt and above in Arnis. (Remember that your Arnis requirements sheet is labeled with the belt color you will TEST for next, not the belt you currently HOLD).

There will be pizza available for lunch in between the two seminars for the usual price of $5/person.

December 30th is Breakfast at the Mason Hall from 9-11am. Support our landlords and treat yourself to a tasty Sunday morning breakfast cooked by someone else!

Stay warm~

Weekly Update: 12/17-12/22

This week’s schedule is normal on Mon, Thurs, and Fri. Wed and Sat are cancelled. All Wednesday classes are cancelled for the rest of December. The schedule is also available on Facebook.

Remaining December cancellations: 19, 22, 26. Only 1 class, 4-5 pm, December 31st.

Weekly Challenge: Karate students, practice one Kihon and one Pinan kata every day this week. Tae Kwon Do students, practice two forms below your current rank every day this week. Everyone, please start thinking about your goals for 2013.

Read-a-thon is still in progress, so keep turning those pages!

Weather Policy Reminder: If school is cancelled for the Stanwood-Camano public schools due to inclement weather, class will also be cancelled at NWSMA. If you’re not sure, you are welcome to call Sensei.

Thanks to everyone who donated to the food and toy drives these past two months. If you have anything left to donate, please take it directly to the Stanwood food bank.

December 30th is breakfast at the Mason Hall from 9-11am.